George Michael’s art collection, which included 60 items and was put up for Christie’s evening sale, brought 9 million 264 thousand pounds (12,302,000 dollars or 10,848,000 euros). All the money will be transferred to numerous charitable projects that the legendary pop singer supported during his lifetime.
The auction was preceded by displays of the best exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, as well as a special multimedia exhibition in London dedicated to the life of George Michael, his music and works of art that he kept.
The highest prices at the sale were paid for the works from George Michael’s art collection created by the artists that pop star knew personally, and for art pieces that were of particular importance to the singer.
The top lots of the auction were two iconic artwork by Damien Hirst. One titled “The Incomplete truth,” acquired by the singer in 2007, representing a showcase filled with formaldehyde with a stuffed pigeon inside. It was sold for 911,250 pounds (including the premium). The second – “Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain” – the embodiment of a Christian Saint in the form of an arrow-pierced calf – went for 875,250 pounds. The third art installation by Hirst, “The Immaculate Heart,” created in 2008, was bought for 323,250 pounds, which is several times higher than the estimate.
A long battle unfolded for the first large-scale painting that George Michael bought for his art collection – “Songbird” (1982) by Bridget Riley. As a result, the buyer acquired this art piece for 791,250 pounds.
Among all the artists presented at the auction, the closest to the singer was, perhaps, Tracey Emin. The most expensive of her artworks were “Hurricane” (2007), which brought 431,025 pounds (a new auction record for the artist’s works made of acrylic), and “George loves Kenny.” The latter represents a neon art installation, which she created after going on a tour with the singer. The new owner bought it for 347,025 pounds. The third exhibit by Emin from George Michael’s art collection was a patchwork quilt titled “Drunk to the Bottom of My Soul,” which went for £275,000.
World auction records were set for the artworks by Jim Lambie, whose oil collage on a printed poster titled “Carefree Whisper” (one of the Michael’s most famous hits) was a favorite of the audience at the pre-sale exhibition. The preliminary estimate of the work ranged from 12 to 18 thousand pounds, but the final price exceeded the wildest expectations by almost ten times and amounted to 175,000.
The auction closed on a poignant note. The neon sign “And if I don’t meet you no more…” created by Cerith Wyn Evans set a new record for the artist in this technique. It was sold for 68,075 pounds, although it was previously estimated at 4.5 times cheaper.
All the lots from George Michael’s art collection were sold at the auction.